Public to decide Best UK Turkish Cypriot Community Activists

The Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations in Britain (CTCA UK) – the UK’s largest umbrella group for Turkish Cypriots – has launched an online public vote to decide who the People’s Choice Best Community Activist Awards of 2019 go to.

The British Turkish Cypriot community is invited to choose two candidates – one male and one female – from the six people nominated, and cast their vote online at

The two winners will be announced at the CTCA Awards Gala on Saturday 12 October, which is being sponsored by Turkish Bank.

The People’s Choice Best Community Activist Award is a new CTCA category. According to a press statement from the CTCA, the award, “recognises individuals whose voluntary or professional efforts have brought about important political or social change that benefits British Turkish Cypriots and / or wider society.”

The nominations were drawn up based on suggestions made by CTCA member organisations, which were “carefully reviewed”. The CTCA Committee then whittled the choices down to a shortlist of six names,  “each one worthy of the award”, which is why, they say, “the CTCA is asking the public to decide” the winners.

Each person has two votes: one for a male and one for a female nominee.

The two female nominees are:

  1. Cllr Ilkay Isa is a political activist who has been building high-level contacts between Turkish Cypriots and the Conservative Party. Her lobbying has led to her local MP, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith publicly call for direct flights to North Cyprus, as well as meetings with Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, and Transport Minister Chris Grayling on the status of Ercan.
  2. Baroness Meral Hussein- Ece, OBE, who is the British Turkish community’s most senior political representative, and the only one currently in Parliament. She was instrumental in highlighting the dire and dangerous conditions at the privately-run Tottenham Park Cemetery – the UK’s largest burial site for British Turks – and drive for major improvements.
The public can cast their vote on

The four male nominees are:

  1. Cemal Ezel, founder of Change Please, is aiming to eradicate homelessness with his coffee cart chain. This new social enterprise trains homeless people to become baristas, and provides them with a living wage, permanent job, housing, a bank account and therapy support. The business has employed over 40 people to date.
  2. Ersu Ekrem, chair British Turkish Cypriot Association. He is one of the community’s most tenacious lobbyists, and has written to countless politicians, and attended numerous events on the Cyprus Problem, challenging the deliberate bias and misinformation of speakers.
  3. Fevzi Hussein is a trade unionist, community and refugee rights activist. He has made 10 aid runs to refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk since 2014, documenting the trips and stories of the refugees he meets, helping to raise awareness about their plight and give a human face to this tragedy.
  4. Husayn Hashim El Bakayi, affectionately known to the community as Husayn Hoca, is the founder of the Cyprus Islamic Association and has been giving spiritual guidance and support to Turkish Cypriot families in Britain for the past 29 years. He has also spearheaded campaigns generating aid for thousands of people around the world.

Voting and Awards Gala tickets

The deadline for voting is midnight on 5 October 2019. The two individuals  who get the most votes will win this year’s People’s Choice Best Community Activist Awards.

To read more about each of the nominees and to cast your vote, please visit

Tickets are also on sale to the CTCA Awards Gala, priced £65 per person, which include admission to the awards ceremony, a three-course dinner, entertainment, wine and soft drinks. They can be bought online from Eventbrite and from CTCA members (call 07496 267 033 / 07949 785 037).

The last day to buy gala tickets is Monday 30 September.

About the CTCA UK,

Formed in 1983, the CTCA is Britain’s largest umbrella body for the community. It aims to give national representation to the UK’s 300,000-strong diverse Turkish Cypriot community, which celebrated its centenary in Britain in 2017.

Voluntary-managed, the CTCA and its member associations have been at the forefront of promoting Turkish Cypriot culture and heritage, strengthening the bridges between the UK and the TRNC, and lobbying the British government on matters of concern for the community, such as direct flights between the UK and North Cyprus. The CTCA also played a pivotal role in establishing the UK Turkish Language, Culture and Education Consortium, which overseas Britain’s network of Turkish supplementary schools, and continues to work closely with them.